When choosing to get your family photos done you should keep a few things in mind. For starters, besides traditional portraits, there are a few other types and styles of photography out there you should know about. The main ones are lifestyle, documentary, natural light, studio, and on-location. You should also consider the individual photographer's style. So what do all of these mean?
Traditional portraiture is just like what it implies. You as the subject are put in front of the camera, you sit, stand, or lean and the photographer instructs you how to pose. "Tilt your head this way", "lean forward", "look directly at the camera", "give me a laugh", etc. Though, this can vary for children because it might not be age appropriate to give such instructions. Can you see your 1 year old giving the photographer a blank stare? ;) So for children a lot of times there will be props used to achieve the traditional portrait.
Then there's lifestyle photography which is capturing your life as it's happening. Though it is often confused with documentary, lifestyle is different in that the goal is to show the individuals camaraderie, love and connection and to convey emotion to the viewer. The person who sees a lifestyle portrait will know right away what the people in the photo are feeling. There will be a lot more candid portraits taken during this type of session and the location will most likely be your home or a place that would be common for your family to frequent.
Back to documentary photography. This type of photography has little interaction between the client (you) and the photographer. A great example is birth photography. You're not going to have a photographer ask you to sit forward and tilt your head just a bit between contractions. If you ever hire a birth photographer and they do that please kick them out of your room ASAP! Can you imagine!? The job of the photographer is to chronicle the event not run it. Other times you would see this style is during "getting ready" shots before your wedding or at the reception. Another example would be if you had a photographer at your work place capturing your life at work. They might also describe themselves as "a fly on the wall".
Natural light photographers do not usually use other means of light (flash or studio lights). They will probably be carrying a reflector to give your face a little extra light. This doesn't mean they don't know how to use flash or lights, it just means they prefer not to. This is most likely because of the look they are trying to achieve with their art.
Studio vs. on-location. Do you like backdrops or a more natural outdoor look? Do you like props or is a blanket enough? This would also probably depend on the type of session. For a newborn session you would probably want indoor, whether in a studio or in your home. For maternity portraits a mixture of indoor and on location might be what you are looking for.
Now, there are photographers who have a mix of styles. I am one of those photographers. My style tends to be more lifestyle with a bit of traditional portraiture, especially when dealing with large family or groups. Documentary photography is definitely one of my favorites (birth photographer here!) because it allows me to tell a story about your family or from that day. In regards to lighting techniques I tend to be a more natural light photographer, especially with birth and newborns. However, I also love how flash can give that dramatic look or mimic natural light. So I'm not afraid to use flash to achieve the look I'm going for.
You will be the most delighted with your portraits if you pick a photographer that will capture your family the best based off of their style, not their price. Which is why you should view their work or portfolio and decide if what you're seeing is what you want for your family portrait sessions.
I would love to be your photographer and document your family, so send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call 562-400-2579 so we can start planning your personalized session today!